One day in August, while out on a recce walk prior to heavy bracken strimming at Fisherton Wood, north of Dunure, we met an ACP walker with heavy rucsac and shorts – and with his long socks pulled up to deter ticks.
Well, after tramping along that bracken path, I checked my legs carefully when I got home on Thursday – and found nothing.
The next day, I wore the same (Gardening) trousers for a short seashore walk to Greenan Castle – and then in the afternoon while ladder pruning the cotoneasters along our lane wall. None of this was tick territory.
On Saturday morning when I got up at seven, I felt a suspicious itch on my lower left calf – and found a wee black tick!!
It must have crawled inside my trouser leg on Thursday, and snuggled down there till I wore them again on Friday – which is a warning to us all that these evil wee beasts can lurk around in our clothing – and get us the second time round!
Fortunately – and it had to be using my left hand – I managed to engage and unscrew its body anti-clockwise (apparently they burrow in using a clockwise rotation) with my larger O’Tom Tick Remover – still intact, complete with head – and still alive, then swabbed the site with surgical spirit, and rubbed in some antibiotic ointment for good measure.
NB – Trying to pull it out simply by grabbing its body with tweezers or fingernails, will almost inevitably separate the body from its head, which will remain buried, and during this trauma its gut contents and possible bacteria could be regurgitated into your skin, increasing the risk of infection from Lyme disease.
So all walkers or Path Volunteers should invest in a set of O’Tom Tick removers – to be kept in their rucsac first aid kit, or car glove-compartment, for instant access if required.
Maybe not for the squeamish – but I took some before-and-after photos – plus a video of the wee bugger crawling over a paper napkin – before crushing it (with some difficulty) between folds of napkin. Please zoom-in to the attached gruesome photos to see it guzzling head-deep in my skin before being extricated – fortunately still alive and in one piece – allowed a wee crawl around for the camera – and then dispatched.
It was only about 2mm long – a nymph rather than a fully-grown tick – but still capable of transmitting Lyme Disease. For further advice on ticks and their management, please log into the excellent Lyme Disease UK website (lymediseaseuk.com) , which is packed full of useful information.
All Pathminder volunteers and ACP walkers should check for ticks anytime they are out working, walking, or sitting in long grass or bracken. Though long trousers, long sleeves, and gloves help protect us – nothing beats a bit of forethought, preparation, and vigilance as well.